'Internet-for-keeping-in-touch'

In the last two months I switched between four different workstations. And while the backups were being created and copied across, I had some free time so I created this silly chart of 'my-Internet-usage-for-keeping-in-touch', and hence this long rant.

My actual Internet life began in 2005. Prior to that, the Internet use was sporadic and consisted of 'one-hour per student’ sessions with an upper cap of 30 hours each month. That time, there used to be a broadband connection (which seemed like a dial-up) which probably followed some sort of Lunar calendar for determining its data transfer speed.

The 'Internet-days' between 2005 and 2007 had a high intensity of Orkut activities (I was in college with an unlimited Internet connection, with lots of free time). During those times, getting testimonials written from friends about you was almost like a competition. I must admit that I was good at writing syrupy testimonials. So good that fellow students requested my expert guidance for writing testimonials for their girlfriends.

During the same period, there was a separate breed of creative gurus who up skilled themselves in copying creating roses, hearts, broken hearts et al with ASCII characters (and text descriptions wId wEiRd caPItAlIZaTiOns) in their Orkut profiles and testimonials. Some of them were also notoriously famous for fishing out profiles of female users and scrapping them with wIlL-u-B-mA-fRAnd and similar requests.  In future, when users began migrating to Facebook,  these creative honchos were called as 'Orkutiya(s)'.  This breed lead to the death of my ‘Testimonial Writing’ career, as well as the plans of my publishing the book: 'Orkut Testimonials Unleashed'.

During 2007-2009, my Orkut usage declined. In mid 2009, I discovered that Facebook was taking over Orkut and made an attempt to follow the trend. The moment I registered on Facebook, I saw that the people of my  4th, 5th, 6th class (sections A to F – yes, we had so many sections) and many others who somehow were never a part of my memory were already there to invite me to play Mafia Wars, Farmville, Friends for Sale, Pillow Fight and other games that I was least interested in. This entire junta did not care about getting in touch, but was more interested in growing eggplants, harvesting their crops,  and gather their crystal balls. People uploaded almost anything in their albums. Right from ‘This week’s trip to the Sabzi Market’ to ‘Ma Offiz Rockz \m/’ – my notifications were full of uploads, likes and requests for joining some shady MLM scheme. There was less communication and more commotion happening under the bracket of ‘keeping in touch’ and ‘staying connected’.  Logging on to Facebook meant like checking your spam inbox. It was when one of the girls in our college took the quiz - 'How sexy are you?' and scored an impressive 98%; I made my decision to quit Facebook. Ideally, the quiz should have disqualified her. To be honest, I'm waiting for the day when the term 'Facebookiya' is coined and actually gets used.

It was during the same year, I was introduced to Twitter, which has been so far one of the best ways to gather news and information. I relied solely on Twitter during the Ayodhya Verdict, Kasab’s Trials, Anna Hazare’s Fast, Japan Earthquake and similar other events to keep myself up to date. (Pro-tip: Check out Google's 'Real-time Search'. Very effective, if you know what’s junk and what’s not).

Its 2011 now, and my approach to keeping in touch has completely changed.  I must say that by not using Facebook/Orkut and something else on similar lines, I am not missing anyone. And the best part, I am not compromising over my privacy. Over these 6 years, the Internet has taught me a lot – and I pay my respect to it by limiting my social networking activities strictly to emails, IM and Twitter.

On an ending note, try answering the following questions to yourself:
  •  Why are you using a social networking site? (Skip this question if you use it to stalk over your ex’es and spy on friends with whom you haven’t spoken in years.)
  • Are you really in touch with your friends? (Skip this question if you believe growing crops on Farmville together and ‘liking’ each other’s albums and updates is going to strengthen your friendship and keep it alive.)
  • What value are you getting out of it? (Skip this question if you believe that Facebooking/Orkutting provides you a great way of maintaining work-life balance.)
If you do not find your answers satisfying, you know what needs to be corrected. And for those who managed to get exempted from all the three questions above, you are a true blue ‘Facebookiya’. :)

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